How Fascism Works

Men of War Image Gallery German dictator Adolf Hitler and Italian dictator Benito Mussolini drive through Rome in 1938. Mussolini defined the idea of Fascism and the all-powerful State. See more pictures of men of war.
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In ­1922­, Benito Mussolini gained control of Italy a­nd introduced the world to fascism, a political philosophy that eventually brought the world to war. Mussolini didn't invent the idea of fascism, but he coined the term and defined it. In 1932, Mussolini wrote in the Italian Encyclopedia that fascism "believes neither in the possibility nor the utility of peace" [source: Fordham].

In fascism, the State is all that matters, and constant conquest -- war -- is a necessity for the glory of that State. The glory of the people comes by extension. "War alone," wrote Mussolini, "brings up to its highest tension all human energy and puts the stamp of nobility upon the peoples who have courage­ to meet it" [source: Fordham].

­"Fascism" is a word thrown around a lot these days. Some people use it to describe any authoritarian person or government, especially one that pursues its will by violent means. But authoritarianism is only part of the philosophy. Communism under­ Josef Stalin was authoritarian and extraordinarily violent, but fascism stands in direct opposition to communism. It embodies a philosophy of extremism that seems completely foreign to modern values but in fact still exists today in small pockets around the world.

In this article, we'll look closely at fascism, find out what the term really means and how the ideology has been used to unite nations and divide the world. We'll also see what conditions must exist for fascism to seem appealing on a broad scale. What does it take for millions of individuals to support a philosophy that explicitly negates their personal value?

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